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Ville Pokka, Nick Schmaltz listed among ESPN's Top 50 NHL prospects

Teuvo Teravainen would've been near the top if he was still eligible.

Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

A pair of Chicago Blackhawks prospects, Ville Pokka and Nick Schmaltz, were included on ESPN's updated Top 50 NHL Prospect rankings released Thursday. Compiled by resident prospect guru Corey Pronman, the list features the best young players not in the NHL who have already been drafted.

That means no Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel, and it also means no Teuvo Teravainen. The Blackhawks winger would've placed among the top dozen prospects, per Pronman, but he's no longer eligible for the list while he's on an NHL roster. Here's the explanation of how a player loses eligibility for the rankings:

Prospects are considered "graduated" if they have more than 25 games played this season in the NHL, 50 career NHL games, or are currently on an NHL roster. Thus, players like Mikhail Grigorenko and David Pastrnak are considered graduates.

That still leaves us with Pokka and Schmaltz, arguably the two best prospects remaining in the organization after the promotion of Teravainen.

Pokka, who was acquired from the New York Islanders as part of the Nick Leddy trade, comes in ranked No. 24. That's an improvement from last year's No. 41 ranking, and gives some hope that the 'Hawks will still end up getting some value out of that frustrating situation.

Here's the full write-up on Pokka, 20, from Pronman:

Pokka has looked pretty impressive as a rookie AHL player being used in all situations, and is among Rockford's leaders in shots on goal. He's not a flashy player, with Chicago's assistant GM Norm Maciver describing him as a "cerebral defenseman who doesn't get into trouble," but he also makes offensive plays by getting into the attack and moving the puck well. He just needs to bulk up and get used to the physical battles in tight space. He was the main piece Chicago acquired in the trade that sent Nick Leddy to the Islanders.

The Blackhawks' other ranked prospect is Schmaltz, who was selected 20th overall in the 2014 draft. The 18-year-old is currently starring for the University of North Dakota in the NCAA, and could be years from ready to contribute on the NHL level. His upside is tantalizing, though, and that's why he's gotten the bump to No. 40 on Pronman's list after being an honorable mention over the summer.

Here's Pronman's write-up on Schmaltz:

Schmaltz was incredibly tough to rank. There are so many reasons to doubt him: He has a fringe physical game, his defensive value is questionable, and he can be invisible for stretches. On the other hand, he's so damn talented. His skating, puck skills, and vision all get top grades; he's a player who can dazzle on the offensive end. Will he dazzle enough as a pro? That is the looming question.

Other top Chicago prospects like Mark McNeill, Ryan Hartman and Stephen Johns were not included. The top five features Toronto's William Nylander, Buffalo's Sam Reinhart, Winnipeg's Nikolaj Ehlers, Calgary's Sam Bennett and Arizona's Max Domi.